Chapter twenty-six opens with another song that “will be sung in the land of Judah” at the beginning of the Messianic Kingdom (Isaiah 26:1-6). They will celebrate their “strong city” and “the LORD’s deliverance.” Even with open gates, they will feel safe because Jehovah will be there.
The middle section of the chapter seems to reflect their anticipation of deliverance (Isaiah 26:7-11). Although they knew that Jehovah could do only righteousness, they had to wait to watch his judgments unfold. The last line of verse eight is a great prayer for every believer: “For your name and for your remembrance is the longing of my soul.” Morning and night the prophet watched for God to show up and deliver his justice.
Regarding the judgments that were due, Isaiah made an interesting point in Isaiah 26:10 that nations should heed even today. He knew that leniency toward criminals does not stop crime. Contrary to the common belief, punishment is a deterrent when used consistently. In fact, punishment is even better than positive incentive or rewards for good behavior, because the wicked do not know God. Although God certainly promises reward to his people if they obey faithfully, he never rewards to unbelievers based on their actions. Instead, he has only punishment for their sins.
Isaiah 26:12-18 is a confident resignation to a hope for the living, although many had already died and would not experience God’s deliverance. Although the nation had grown, the righteous and wicked dead were consigned to the grave. Everything that Israel had experience seemed to be to no effect, like a pregnant woman who could not give birth. Yet God corrected Isaiah. Their dead would come to life again (Isaiah 26:19-21). Their resurrection would be like morning flowers which had survived the night, so he encouraged the survivors to hide for a short time longer until the judgment had passed and the morning deliverance had come.